Happy new year to you all! I hope that you all enjoyed the festivities over the last couple of weeks and are geared up and ready for whatever 2021 has to throw at us.
I have to admit, I kind of failed myself in the last few days of the year. My Goodreads reading challenge was 50 books and I ended the year on 48. It was achievable with the time I had left, but I just got distracted by other things and once it got past the point of no return I kind of took the attitude of “ah, there’s always next year”. So even though this review is for a book that I started in 2020, I didn’t finish it until 2021, so it’s going towards my new reading challenge.
This book has been on my to read list for what feels like forever. There was so much twitter hype about this book and I’ve wanted to get around to it for ages, but the time just didn’t allow. However I finally got there. The Waiting Rooms is a the debut novel from @evecsmith and you can get hold of a copy here.
The entire world is captured in an antibiotic crisis. What would be considered ordinary infections cannot be treated and a simple scratch or cut can result in death. It is so bad that people over the age of seventy are denied antibiotics and are sent to live in hospitals from which they will never return.
Twenty years post crisis, Kate is working in a hospital as a nurse. She begins a journey to find her birth mother but what she ends up finding is nothing like she expected. She learns of concerning stories about her mother’s past which end up putting herself and her family in danger.
General Thoughts 🤔
This book was frightening, chilling and so close to what is our current reality it’s unreal. I found it so strange that only a mere 12 months ago, I would have read this book and not been able to relate to a thing. Having read it during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a whole other level of scary. It was like seeing into a very near and very devastating future but at the same time reading about the present that we’re all living.
I lost count of how many times I stopped reading and started talking to my partner about what was happening with great concern. The tension I felt when reading this book was off the charts. COVID-19 aside, an antibiotic crisis is petrifying and very possible. This book made me ask myself so many what ifs and I found myself with absolutely no answers to those questions.
I found the characters to be one of the most chilling aspects of this book. It only proved to me that we as humans are all flawed and a pandemic such as an antibiotic resistance could not only be caused by, but worsened by humans and our decisions.
I easily empathised with Kate’s story and I particularly found her relationship with her daughter really interesting. Kate lived through the crisis therefore knows life both pre and post crisis so I understood her constant worry and concern about her daughter; Sasha. Sasha on the other hand only knew a life of masks, restrictions and very little freedom. I could see how she would feel hard done by knowing how life was for her mother at her age.
I warmed to Lily very early on in the book and my heart broke for her. Approaching seventy, her options for an enriched later life were slim. Not only that, she battled with decisions that she’d made in her past. I thought that she was an incredibly strong lady and she reminded me that we never know the reasons behind the paths that people choose to take in their lives.
Writing Style ✍️
What I particularly liked about this book was that it was so visionary and covers lots of very real and likely inevitable issues but at the same time it had a fantastic thriller storyline. It was a work of magic by Eve Smith to be able to thread the two together. I would have been gripped by the medical and dystopian horror in the book so with the thriller layer added in, I was in 1000%.
The structure of the book is everything I love from a book and to see this in a debut novel is amazing. The story spans time between late 20th century to 21st century and the world between South Africa and the UK. Then just to add some additional complexity the whole story is told from three different points of view. It’s a lot to keep track of but it kept me glued to every single page.
Conclusion & Scoring 🏅
I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about this book any time soon. To have read The Waiting Rooms now, over 12 months into a global pandemic was either a really good idea or a really bad idea, I haven’t quite made my mind up which it is. Regardless, I will be talking to anyone who will listen to me about this book. Eve Smith deserves all of the amazing recognition she has received for this book as well as much more. I cannot wait to see what she works on next.